Born in Denver, Colorado, she spent her childhood aspiring to replicate the thespian artistry of her aunt and uncle, both of whom were well-respected touring actors. She appeared opposite David Warfield in Music Master in 1906 when she was only eighteen years old. Her career was on the rise, yet she left the stage a star in 1909, to marry Denver businessman Frank W. Frueauff and start a family. Years later, her daughters would follow in her footsteps, likewise pursuing careers in the theatre, Elaine as a producer and Margaret as a stage manager.
Read more about Antoinette Perry and her namesake Tony Awards, free from the American Theater Wing.
Following Frank Frueaff's death in 1922, Perry returned to the stage, appearing notably in Kaufman & Ferber's Minick. She took up directing in 1928. In partnership with Brock Pemberton she produced several successful plays, including Divorce Me Dear, Ceiling Zero, Red Harvest, Strictly Dishonorable, Personal Appearance, and Kiss the Boys Goodbye. Their most famous production was probably the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mary Chase classic Harvey, which enjoyed moderate success on Broadway and lasting success as a film, both starring Jimmy Stewart. Perry died from a heart attack during the play's lengthy Broadway run on June 28, 1946.
Perry helped found, and was chairman of the board and secretary of, the American Theatre Wing, which operated the Stage Door Canteens during World War II, providing entertainment to servicemen in several American cities. After her death, her friends and colleagues took action to memorialize her contribution to the high standards of American theatre. Brock Pemberton suggested that the American Theatre Wing create a series of awards to be given in her honor. Since 1947, the Antoinette Perry Awards have been given annually for distinguished achievement in theatre, and are one of the theatre world's most coveted honors. They are universally known by their nickname, the Tony Awards.
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